Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Proud of Bishop Boulevard"

For those of you without a subscription to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, below is my letter to the editor that ran on Monday.

In addition to making the obvious comparison between Professor Ayad Rahmani's elitism and that displayed by Barack Obama in his "bitter Americans" statement, I wanted to make a deeper, more subtle point.

Many of Rahmani's cheerleaders, including Chuck Pezeshki and Chris Lupke, are proponents of locally-owned businesses versus national chains. Yet, there are no chain stores on Bishop other than Safeway (yet.) There are only locally-owned businesses (Fireside Grille, Village Centre Cinemas, Corporate Pointe, Crimson and Gray, Zeppoz, Barnacle Bill's, et. al.) and locally-owned and -operated franchises (Radio Shack, Absolute Fitness, Jiffy Lube, Holiday Inn Express, et. al.)

Do we as a community really want to impose onerous and expensive architectural requirements on the types of businesses we supposedly want to encourage just to please the aesthetic sensibilities of a few professors? That will make our local businesses even less competitive with national chains. I'm quite proud of all the progress on Bishop Blvd. over the last 10 years. The sidewalks will come later when the city has more money and the Bishop build-out is complete.

For example, up in Hayden, the city negotiated with Wal-Mart to have the facade of the store tan and brown with rock veneer "to blend with the rustic flavor Hayden Lake is trying to develop as part of a revitalization project." That's chump change to Wal-Mart; merely the cost of doing business. They are dropping $600,000 to put in stop lights down in Clarkston. But that's a very big deal to a small business.

From Monday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Prior to Professor Ayad Rahmani's "architorture" faux-protest a few weeks back, I had heard only pride expressed about the buildings on Bishop Boulevard from Pullman residents, civic leaders and elected officials. Many have rightfully praised native son Duane Brelsford Jr.'s Corporate Pointe, Fireside Grille, and Village Centre Cinemas, as well as the new Pullman Regional Hospital.

Now, much as presidential candidate Barack Obama has been doing for the past week, Rahmani, who called Bishop Boulevard "counter-human," has tried to perform damage control (Opinion, April 18.)

Unfortunately for Rahmani, his Viewpoint column in the Oct. 26 issue of WSU Today completely undermined his efforts.

Sure, Rahmani is concerned about the "built environment," but only because a "worldly faculty member wants to be proud of his or her choice of place, not making apologies to those who visit" and "high-class faculty will refuse to live in scattered and inconsequential buildings."

His call for the public and the private sectors to work together also rings hollow. In his column, Rahmani claimed only the university can "save" Pullman. Pullman's housing represents the "worst of the effects of a market economy." Developers persist in building homes with "materials and planning that are highly wasteful and unsustainable." The city is "too bogged down in trying to increase tax revenues to worry about the role of architecture in improving matters." Rahmani advocated a Washington State University land grab on Grand Avenue, which "shows little beyond gas stations and neglected farm buildings," under the guise of "student housing."

Rahmani stated, "This need not be a divisive issue." Unfortunately, we nonworldly, low-class, nonfaculty types get bitter. We cling to offensive "mcmansions" with garages or inconsequential cookie-cutter homes or antipathy to people who insult and disparage our town and the people who live in it as a way to explain our frustrations.

Tom Forbes, Pullman


Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

I'd like to comment beyond simply saying, "rock on!", but unfortunately I am unable to since I am presently buried under a stack of bibles and guns.

MarvinK said...

I agree with Rahmani on at least one thing--Pullman could use some 'green' modern housing!

Unfortunately, nobody seems to be more willing to take advantage of a market economy than those architects and builders of eco-friendly homes. A quick look through the 'economical' and 'green' pre-fab home choices at places like FabPreFab.com will make someone quickly realize why McMansions are so popular. Sure, they have lots of really great designs in the eco-friendly homes... but at a cost of $200+/sq ft... and prefab is the supposedly cheap way into an eco-friendly home!!!

Instead of whining about big companies like Walmart, I think the those who want to see green choices (in housing or whatever else) should start pressuring those who design and build green products. Right now, they price and cater to the upper end and leave the rest of us little choice but to buy our McMansions.

Tom Forbes said...

Marvin, check out this KLEW story.

Moscow is getting affordable "green" homes because of the efforts of a private developer. There's that free market at work again. And it had nothing to do with any university professors protesting. If Rahmani really wants to make a change, let him put his money where his mouth is.

Mattwi said...

I'd just like to be able to drive along Bishop without everything in my Toyota truck rattling apart from the potholes and cracked asphalt...

dave the builder said...

I build Energy star homes which saves 20% on utility bills. Also I build homes in spokane with trees that were once green.
how much greener can you get?
Cone visit me for an energy star home built in pullman or colfax. I have been remodeling tick klock pharmacy in colfax for some time now. come see me. dave thompson

April E. Coggins said...

If we are going to allow free advertisements, I sell scooters. They get great gas mileage per person, not so great for a family. Everything has a trade-off.

And if you don't mind Marvink, I believe I will let free-enterprise decide which building will be purchased. Not the government intervention system that Prof. Rahmani envisions. Is that okay with you?